'A cloud of mosquitoes': Floods cause extra-buggy summer in western Massachusetts
Recent flooding and heavy rains have caused more mosquitoes in western Massachusetts. And that could eventually lead to a rise in diseases caused by the insects.
Besides carrying diseases such as West Nile, the increase in the mosquito population can be annoying.
"I was just at a resident's house in Northampton and it was basically a cloud of mosquitoes in their back yard," said John Briggs Wednesday morning.
Briggs is the director of the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District, a group of more than 20 communities working to combat the insects. He said in addition to the usual summertime mosquitoes, there's been others emerging from flooded areas.
"So, you have normal species in the summer that are typically there and then you have these floodwater species that will kind of add to that," Briggs said.
He said mosquitoes tested from one area in West Springfield were positive for West Nile. Pittsfield also has reported the presence of the virus.
To try to prevent mosquito bites, he said the best way is to use mosquito repellant.
“I know people really don’t like doing that, but that’s huge,” Briggs said.
He also suggested steering clear of outdoor activities when mosquitoes are most active, which is an hour before sunset and an hour before sunrise.
Briggs also said residents can help to limit the mosquito population by removing standing water from around homes. He said buckets with water in them, or smaller children’s swimming pools, can be a fertile breeding ground for the insects.
In a press release the Northampton health department cautioned residents about the increase in mosquitoes. It said it regularly monitors for the insects, has them tested for disease and works to reduce the source of the insects.
In addition, the city’s health commissioner, Merridith O’Leary, has directed a mosquito control company to “assess known areas of standing water and re-treat areas of concern,” with larvicide.
“The approved larvicide is species-specific and will not harm humans, animals, birds, other insects, fish, shellfish, plants, or the environment,” the department said.